Monthly Archives: July 2015

You’re Never Too Old For A Silly Shirt

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Over the years I seem to have collected an unfeasibly large pile of weird T-shirts with slogans from Xana-Don’t! to What Can’t You Do With A Drunken Sailor? My neighbour Dan came up with the one above for us locals, and no, it doesn’t make much sense (although there are crayfish in the canals of […]

Reinventing England

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Miguel Coyula, urban architect, has this to say about Cuba normalising its relations with America: ‘When you talk to people, and you ask them, Why are you visiting Havana? The common answer is, I want to see it now. … I want to see the real Havana. … So they share the fear that Havana […]

The Mystery Of Sherlock’s Home

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The Independent is becoming a great uncoverer of odd stories. Today they reveal that the address of Sherlock Holmes, 221b Baker Street, together with two valuable properties near Hyde Park and a mansion in Hampstead worth a total of £147m, are linked to notorious Kazakh businessman Rakhat Aliyev, the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s President. He was accused of […]

More Bad Writing

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If you hired a carpenter and he built you some shelves that subsequently collapsed when you stood books on them, you’d call him a bad carpenter. So in yesterday’s article about bad writers I was interested by a number of comments (some of which I didn’t publish because they were from online trolls) which argued […]

Is This The World’s Best Bad Writer?

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It’s an excitingly rich field that started with William McGonagall and has reached its ne plus ultra with the wonderful, appalling ‘Sherry Silver’. Her prose is so staggeringly inept that I’ve sort of fallen in love with her, as I did with Jacqueline Suzanne and Dan Brown. Ms Silver sounds like a perfectly nice, normal kind […]

Going Back To Castle Dracula

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Bram Stoker supposedly had the idea for ‘Dracula’ after seeing a Victoria family enjoying a picnic inside a crypt in Highgate Cemetery. And so the most exotic fantasy was born of a very English obsession, the taking of high tea with relatives, albeit ones that were dead. I had that thought in mind as I […]

Harrogate & The Gender Balance

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Every year Harrogate hosts Britain’s biggest gathering of crime writers and their readers at the Old Swan Hotel, and the four-day event, called the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, is usually a sell-out. People in Yorkshire are avid readers (and drinkers of the eponymous beer) but there are also visitors from all over the […]

Where Would You Rather Live?

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      Two new apartment buildings perfectly illustrate London’s housing dilemma, and help explain what’s going so wrong. Look at these two photographs and decide which building you would prefer to live in. Without thinking, I automatically chose the brick building. I was surprised to discover it’s social housing. The one on the left is […]

Poor But Honest Entertainment

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I’ve always preferred honest B movies to under-ambitious and oversold A movies. Watching [Rec]4 last night brought that home as I sat there thinking ‘Outboard-toting heroine fights rabid monkeys on a detonating ship – what’s not to love?’ The [Rec] series has a certain amount of originality and rings enough changes to intrigue, but originality […]

Sorry We Ate It All, The Crumbs Are For You

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Young people aren’t having a moan for nothing: It seems there really has been a 10% drop in their prospects compared to the opportunities their parents had when they were young. The 2015 Intergenerational Fairness index reported a year-on-year decline in prospects for Generation Y across a range of indices including housing, education, health, income, debt and […]